Tuesday, May 11, 2021

First Limpkin for Texas at Brazos Bend, 5/11/21

Limpkin is a large wading bird related to rails and cranes and somewhat resembling an ibis.  They are fairly common in Florida and the Caribbean and occur in Mexico in Atlantic lowlands from Veracruz south where they feed on apple snails (Pomacea) among other things.  In recent years they have been found to be nesting in SW Louisiana and have even strayed to Oklahoma.  So this begged the question "When will a Limpkin be found in Texas?"  Well, an observant birder photographed the state's first Limpkin at Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston last Thursday.  It was refound on Friday on private property just outside the park.  I don't know all the details but John Berner from Houston was able to gain limited access for small groups of birders under the watchful eye of the property owner.  Having known John for quite a while, he signed me up for today's trip as the leader for the day.

Our group of about fifteen soon heard the peacock-like screams of a Limpkin after parking our cars near the private wetland.  We got distant looks and then the Limpkin flew by relatively close and then off to the west.

So we worked our way west, following the Limpkin calls, along a berm that paralled the park's southern boundary.  Every few minutes we would get a glimpse and then the bird would fly farther west.  After an extended Limpkinless period, we were about to give up hope, when the bird called again.  We continued westward and eventually found the bird screaming from a distant tree in the wetland.  Then it flew and was joined by a second bird.  They were distant but we followed them though scopes, binoculars and camera lenses.  They were interacting as though they were a pair.

Wow!  That was pretty cool.  They look like a mated pair and there's plenty of apple snails to feed on as evidenced by egg masses everywhere.

So Limkpins may well be on their way to becoming established in Texas.  I was hoping to find the first one someday as a stray wandering up to the Valley from Mexico.  But they invaded SE Texas first.

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